Benefits of Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Endurance Athletes & Runners

By Dr. Kailee Carlson

This post is for all of my runners out there!  Working in a gym that specializes in working with endurance athletes and runners, I’ve discovered that many athletes have no idea how impactful and beneficial acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be in their training journeys.  My ultimate goal is to show endurance athletes how this medicine can help with performance, recovery, rehab, and injury prevention, leading to all-around better outcomes.

As an endurance athlete, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have played a huge part in allowing me to complete several ultramarathons, marathons, and shorter distances without having to DNF or being unable to get to the start line due to injuries, as well as speeding up recovery time post-race.  It has been extremely impactful on my mental health, digestion, regulating my menstrual cycle, and supporting sleep and overall function.

You may be asking, how does it actually help and what can it do for me?  Here are a few of the top ways it can help endurance athletes!
4 runners running on a track
  1. Pain Relief and Injury Prevention: Acupuncture can help alleviate muscle soreness, joint pain, and inflammation. By promoting blood flow and reducing tension in muscles, acupuncture can aid in preventing injuries and speeding up recovery from strenuous workouts. And what endurance athlete doesn’t want to speed up the recovery process so they can start moving again?! ????‍♀️

  2. Improved Circulation and Oxygenation: Chinese medicine views the body’s energy flow, or Qi, as essential for health and performance. Acupuncture aims to balance this energy flow, which can enhance circulation and oxygenation of tissues. Better circulation means muscles receive more oxygen and nutrients during exercise, leading to improved endurance and performance.

  3. Stress Reduction and Mental Focus: Endurance training can be physically and mentally demanding, leading to stress and fatigue. Acupuncture sessions can help athletes relax, reduce anxiety, and improve mental focus, which are crucial for maintaining endurance during long races or training sessions.

  4. Enhanced Recovery: Acupuncture, along with other Chinese medicine techniques like herbal remedies and cupping therapy, can aid in recovery by reducing muscle soreness, promoting relaxation, and supporting the body’s natural healing processes. This can allow athletes to bounce back more quickly from intense training sessions or competitions.

  5. Balanced Energy Levels: Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of maintaining balance in the body’s energy systems. Acupuncture treatments aim to restore this balance, which can help athletes regulate their energy levels more effectively, preventing burnout and optimizing performance.

  6. Support for Overall Health and Well-being: In addition to specific benefits for athletic performance, acupuncture and Chinese medicine focus on holistic health and well-being. By addressing underlying imbalances in the body, these therapies can support overall health, immunity, and vitality, which are essential for endurance athletes who push their bodies to the limit.

I could go on and on about the benefits, but we will leave it at that for now!  With summer training and races right around the corner, now is the time to give your body the care it needs so you can be in this for the long game.

*The information contained on this website/page is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or substitute for medical, nutritional or acupuncture advice or treatment. Any reference to or mention of any particular diagnoses or dysfunctions is intended for informational purposes only and not an attempt to diagnose your particular situation/condition. You should always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medicine or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem.